1st Edition

America’s First Vaccination The Controversy of 1721-22

By Barbara Heifferon Copyright 2023
    286 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the response to a new scientific advance in medicine three hundred years ago to understand how this discourse revealed religious, racial, anti-intellectual, and other ideologies the first time documented vaccinations were introduced in America.

    This text serves as a case study that examines the historic discourses surrounding the implementation of a new prevention technique, smallpox inoculation, to prevent the devastating epidemics of smallpox that had visited the new colonies since their start on the American continent. Using this detailed analysis of the arguments surrounding the project in early America, the author examines the various arguments that circulated in the 1720s regarding the project. When compared to today’s pandemic, this study argues that Americans over-react and complicate scientific applications not with logical scientific perspectives or even with ethical views, but instead bring exaggerated claims founded on uniquely American historical, religious, racial, territorial, and political ideologies.

    America’s First Vaccination will be of interest to anyone interested in American history, the history of medicine, cultural studies, and a comparison to current pandemic events.

    1. Contextualizing the Smallpox Inoculation of 1721-1722 2. The Religious and Legal Frames of the Debate: Who Controls the Body? 3. Echoes of the Witchcraft Trials: The Power of the "Invisible" 4. Class and Education in the "Academicus Dialogues," Other Commentary, and Silence Dogood 5. The Discrediting of African, Levantine, and Women’s Experience 6. Then and Now


    Barbara Sherman Heifferon initiated a sub-field in the rhetoric of health of medicine (RHM) in the U.S. This is her sixth book. Her love of medicine began as a cardio-pulmonary technician and continued to a longer career in RHM, technical and scientific writing, pandemics, and writing studies.